The Immersive Digital Experiences Alliance (IDEA) will launch at the 2019 NAB Show with the goal of creating a suite of royalty-free specifications that address all immersive media formats, including emerging light field technology. Founding members, including CableLabs, Light Field Lab Inc, Otoy, and Visby, created IDEA to serve as an alliance of like-minded technology, infrastructure, and creative innovators working to facilitate the development of an end-to-end ecosystem for the capture, distribution, and display of immersive media.
Such a unified ecosystem must support all displays, including highly anticipated light field panels. Recognising that the essential launch point is to create a common media format specification that can be deployed on commercial networks, IDEA already has begun work on the new Immersive Technology Media Format (ITMF). ITMF will serve as an interchange and distribution format that will enable high-quality conveyance of complex image scenes, including six-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF), to an immersive display for viewing. Moreover, ITMF will enable the support of immersive experience applications including gaming, VR, and AR, on top of commercial networks.
Recognised for its potential to deliver an immersive true-to-life experience, light field media can be regarded as the richest and most dense form of visual media, thereby setting the highest bar for features that the ITMF will need to support and the new media-aware processing capabilities that commercial networks must deliver. Jon Karafin, CEO and co-founder of Light Field Lab, explains that: “A light field is a representation describing light rays flowing in every direction through a point in space. New technologies are now enabling the capture and display of this effect, heralding new opportunities for entertainment programming, sports coverage, and education. However, until now, there has been no common media format for the storage, editing, transmission, or archiving of these immersive images.”
“We’re working on specifications and tools for a variety of immersive displays — AR, VR, stereoscopic 3D, and light field technology, with light field being the pinnacle of immersive experiences,” said Dr. Arianne Hinds, Immersive Media Strategist at CableLabs. “As a display-agnostic format, ITMF will provide near-term benefits for today’s screen technology, including VR and AR headsets and stereoscopic displays, with even greater benefits when light field panels hit the market. If light field technology works half as well as early testing suggests, it will be a game changer, and the cable industry will be there to help support distribution of light field images with the 10G platform.”
Starting with Otoy’s ORBX scene graph format, a well-established data structure widely used in advanced computer animation and computer games, IDEA will provide extensions to expand the capabilities of ORBX for light field photographic camera arrays, live events, and other applications. Further specifications will include network streaming for ITMF and transcoding of ITMF for specific displays, archiving, and other applications. IDEA will preserve backwards-compatibility on the existing ORBX format.
IDEA anticipates releasing an initial draft of the ITMF specification in 2019. The alliance also is planning an educational seminar to explain more about the requirements for immersive media and the benefits of the ITMF approach. The seminar will take place in Los Angeles this summer.